U.S.-backed forces storm IS-held village in east Syria
BEIRUT — U.S.-backed Syrian forces entered an eastern village held by the Islamic State group where intense clashes were ongoing Saturday, a day after the extremists reportedly killed 20 fighters, the forces and a war monitor said.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said its fighters stormed Bagouz and were close to the center of the village. The forces added that they planned to open another front in the Sousseh area along the Euphrates river to increase pressure on the extremists.
SDF launched with the help of the U.S.-led coalition a wide offensive last week to capture the last pocket held by IS in Syria. The Kurdish-led forces have been among the most effective in the fight against IS in Syria, forcing them out of much of the country’s east.
Despite losing most of the territory it held between Iraq and Syria since its peak in 2014, the jihadist IS remains a disruptive force. Its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, urged his followers to “persevere” in an audio tape attributed to him last month.
The IS-linked Aamaq news agency said the group’s gunmen targeted advancing SDF fighters in the Bagouz area with mortar rounds, roadside bombs and sniper fire inflicting many casualties among them.
The SDF commander of the operation in Bagouz, who identified himself as Shergo, said in a video statement the fighting is intense from both sides and that his fighters now control almost half the village.